The Kingdom of Bahrain’s authoritarian ruler King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa visited British Prime Minister Theresa May at Downing Street on Wednesday, despite outcry from human rights and anti-arms trade groups.
The Gulf regime is a close ally of both the UK and Saudi Arabia, as well as being a major UK arms customer, and is currently bearing much of the cost for building the Royal Navy’s new Mina Salman naval base.
Human rights groups have highlighted widespread abuses committed by Bahraini government forces against pro-democracy activists during the 2011 Arab Spring.
The king’s visit was met with protests by the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, and Campaign against the Arms Trade (CAAT) on Wednesday afternoon. Two activists were escorted away by police.
Already in 2016, senior British Royals, who are known for their closeness to the Gulf monarchies, have been criticized for meeting the Bahraini monarchy both in the UK and during trips to the nation.
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall will soon visit Bahrain on behalf of the UK government, despite long-standing concerns over human rights abuses and UK arms sales.
In April, a report for the Foreign Affairs Select Committee blasted Bahrain’s record on human rights abuses, not least during the violent crushing of Arab Spring protests with the direct support of another controversial UK ally, Saudi Arabia.
The report also argued that human rights had effectively been downgraded by the UK government in a bid to shore up relations with the authoritarian state, which enjoys arms trading and security arrangements with Britain.
A broad campaign is currently underway, including MPs, to put a halt to UK arms sales to the Saudi regime in light of repeated reports of war crimes in its UK-assisted aerial bombing campaign in Yemen.
There can be no denial that over the last couple of years, anti-American sentiment across the globe has been on the rise. And even though Western corporate media sources are trying to push the blame on Russian journalists, they alone could hardly ever achieve such an effect.
Today a typical list of accusations against the US includes its invasions of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, and also includes claims that Washington has been sponsoring terrorists as well as exporting weapons to the countries sponsoring terrorists.
The US presidential campaign, riddled with scandals and delusional statements, has clearly demonstrated that something fundamental has gone wrong with “American style-democracy.”
As it’s been noted by The American Spectator, voters these days see no equality before the law in America. What we’ve witnessed in recent years is incompatible with the values of the Founding Fathers who promoted the idea of inalienable rights. The backlash among voters has been illustrated during this presidential election There is growing resentment of the “political class,” and an increased distrust -. and even fear – of government. Unfortunately, there appears to be ample justification for this feeling. Fear of corruption in government far outpaced fears of terrorism, financial insecurity, and even illness or death of a loved one. Many Americans now see government not as the keepers of justice and peace, not as servants of the people, but as a corrupt entity and menace.
Such frustration is further aggravated by the dissatisfaction of 41% of the US population with the way the Obama administration is addressing the most pressing problems of the population, as it has been shown by the latest Gallup poll. In addition, growing anti-American sentiments in the regions affected by Washington’s aggressive policies (in particular, in the Middle East, Asia, Latin America), resulted in nearly universal hatred of the United States even where people originally had sympathy towards Washington.
A vivid example of this development is Ukraine, which the White House has been governing over since 2014 as if it were an additional state, appointing the government while making all the important decisions regarding this nation’s fate.
According to the self-exiled Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash who has found refuge in Austria, “the Ukrainians will soon realize that all of their troubles – bitter taxes, unemployment, and all the reforms that failed have been brought upon them by the United States. And when they do, there will be no nation that will hate America more than Ukraine in the whole world. It’s only a matter of time. “
The international human rights organization known as Human Rights Action (HRA) has recently published a report that displayed migration numbers that shocked Kiev. Since the beginning of this year, more than three million Ukrainian citizens have moved to Russia. The vast majority of those fleeing their homeland are migrant workers wishing to obtain a work permission in Russia. Experts predict that by the middle of 2017 the number of people leaving Ukraine will increase by at least 50%.
However, those leaving Ukraine are not just migrant workers. The protracted armed crackdown on the ethnic Russian population in the east of the country has become a breeding ground for all sorts of militants, that are now trying to escape the ever-deepening economic, social and financial crisis in Ukraine. These people have been disillusioned by the West and are willing to do all kinds of “work” for various extremist and terrorist organizations for even moderate pay. These militants are now capable of launching all sorts of terrorist attacks both in the US and in Europe.
They won’t find it difficult to get their hands on all sorts of weapons either, since Kiev forces have been illegally shipping everything they can sell to terrorists to the most distant parts of the world, as has been reported by various Western media sources, including Reuters.
Over the past year, the Internet has been filled with reports that ISIS has been infiltrating the territory of Ukraine, where terrorist groups have been establishing training camps and storage facilities while actively recruiting new members. This fact, in particular, was stressed by the representatives of the Crimean administration at a meeting with 11 French parliamentarians, led by a deputy of the National Assembly, Thierry Mariani, last July. In a situation with Ukraine, a special role in supporting terrorists played by local militant organizations, mainly consisting of the Crimean Tatars, who, under the leadership of Mustafa Dzhemilev and Lenur Islyamova, are using the connivance of lawlessness that reigns in Ukraine today to establish a new wing of ISIS.
Since the collapse of the USSR, and the inception of the unipolar world order with the United States at its center, the term ‘benevolent hegemony’ has entered the lexicon of international relations and geopolitics. The full fleshing out of this idea was revealed in the 1996 essay by American neoconservatives Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan, ‘Toward a Neo-Reaganite Foreign Policy’. Its essence is an excuse for the United States to pursue whichever diplomatic and military means are believed to forward the goals of an American Empire, on the basis that unlike past empires, this one is not based on the prestige of the American people, or indeed any given leader, but instead on a set of ‘universal values and principles’ which are supposedly positive for all who live under them. One need only look at the neoconservatives themselves and come to the conclusion that they certainly do not represent the interests of the American people, as their international operations rarely have any positive impact for working men and women, and in fact very often engender negative consequences for them. Nor could it be said that neoconservatives aid the prestige of a given leader, as their legacy of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan destroyed the presidential legacy of George W. Bush, and notably his British ally Tony Blair.
This is excusable of course, because it has never been claimed by the neoconservative establishment that their policies are crafted with these people in mind. They are in aid of an ideology, and because most Westerners suffer under the delusion that this ideology is itself benevolent, then the means that America uses to propagate and expand its influence must also be benevolent. Slowly however, this facade is beginning to peel away.
Tom Rogan, a foreign policy analyst for the neoconservative publication National Review recently penned an article describing ‘Three Ways the US Can Save Syria‘. Obviously this is in response to the fact that America is being defeated in the country, the Syrian Army’s gradual recapture of Aleppo being just the latest blow to the terrorist rebel groups agitating against the legitimate government. If President Assad ends the insurgency of terrorists, then the American Empire loses not only in terms of its original geopolitical goals which spurred its meddling, but in terms of international prestige, especially among the nations of the Middle East. In light of this, Rogan’s urgent recommendations make sense, but in his zeal he gives the world a very clear picture of what ‘benevolent hegemony’ looks like.
The first recommendation concerns the oil market. Russia, the key counter-force to the United States in Syria, has been economically harmed by a dramatic dip in global oil prices, Russia is presently in talks with OPEC members about capping oil production, which would raise the price back up to reasonable levels. Rogan proposes diplomatic interference with this effort (mainly involving Saudi Arabia) in order to do as much economic damage to Russia as possible. The carrot he wishes to lead the Saudis with is the proposal for surface-to-air missiles given to allied rebel groups in Syria, but could just as easily be more rockets for Saudi aircraft to target funerals in Yemen.
Consider how benevolent this is; the stated aim being to wound a sovereign nation’s economy and by extension its people, the means being to arm dangerous groups within a sovereign nation in order that they can kill more civilian and government targets.
The second recommendation is perhaps the most alarming, as it can be perceived to be a direct terror threat against the nation of Turkey and its president, Tayyip Erdogan. Rogan acknowledges that after the failed July coup orchestrated against America’s own supposed NATO ally, the country does not trust the US, and is seeking to mend relations with Russia. For a long time, the relationship between Syria and Turkey was decidedly negative, but as the war has dragged on and millions of the displaced have flooded across borders with no checks on their movement, Ankara knows that stability in Syria is in fact vital to its own national security interests, and has thus moved away from its previous position on the conflict. In response to this setback, Rogan has the following proposition:
“Here America’s golden ticket is the Kurds — specifically, U.S. armament support to Kurdish militias such as the Syrian-based YPG. At present, the U.S. carefully qualifies its support to the YPG to mollify the Turks. Erdogan fears U.S. support will enable the YPG and other Kurdish forces to destabilize Turkey’s southern frontier. And to some degree he is right. But if Erdogan wants to play us, we should play him.”
In case the severity of this is not clear, the insinuation is that if Turkey does not end rapprochement with Russia and pursue an aggressively anti-Assad agenda, the American military should arm groups it knows may conduct violent attacks against the Turkish state. Is there any way this cannot be taken as blackmail via terror, and if so how benevolent is such a proposal?
The third recommendation is to supply “humanitarian airlifts” to rebel-held areas of Syria. Rogan recollects the Bush-era airlifts to Georgia during the 2008 crisis, but there is a key difference between the two scenarios. In 2008, Georgia was a sovereign nation undergoing an incredibly complex regional dispute with breakaway provinces, but nevertheless the government there invited American assistance. This is not the case in Syria, where the government has expressed no permission for America to even enter its airspace, an international norm which the American Air Force has been violating for over a year now. In fact, in the wake of the brutal air assault on Deir el-Zour which killed 62 Syrian soldiers, President Assad has been even more strident in making its long-held case that Western powers are working hand-in-glove with ISIS. This proposal more than the other two brings the world dangerously close to a conflict that nobody wants to even entertain, as Rogan recommends escorting these “humanitarian airlifts” with “fighter patrols” who would challenge Russian air superiority. Is laying the groundwork for WWIII benevolent?
Rogan finishes his essay by explaining that the goal of these dangerous pieces of foreign policy advice is to express “that America is unwilling to cede Syria to Russia”, apparently indulging in a fantasy that America ever possessed Syria, and indeed with a staggering sense of authority that the entire nation of Syria is something which can and should be possessed by America.
This is the not the first example of this kind of rhetoric coming from mainstream Western think-tanks and foreign policy journals which are intricately tied into the workings of the US State Department, however it is one of the less varnished ones. There is not even the mask of benevolence present in these proposals; they are dangerous, lawless, and cynical. If Hillary Clinton wins the presidency, she has made clear that this is the course she will take.
In a secret speech to Goldman Sachs which was revealed by Wikileaks, Clinton admitted the following regarding a no-fly zone in Syria:
“They’re getting more sophisticated thanks to Russian imports. To have a no-fly zone you have to take out all of the air defense, many of which are located in populated areas. So our missiles, even if they are standoff missiles so we’re not putting our pilots at risk—you’re going to kill a lot of Syrians”
And yet, even with this understanding, Hillary Clinton maintains support for the institution of a no-fly zone. Donald Trump of course represents the antithesis of such a hazardous foreign policy, abandoning the commitments of neoconservatives and their ideology, in order to focus on the various internal problems that his country faces. Even so we cannot rely on a Trump victory, for by now we are all aware of the Clinton campaign’s ability to martial all of her friends and colleagues in the Orwellian media, as well as stoop to even more subversive means to steal an election result. We must assume the worst, and thus we must assume and anticipate President Clinton and her craven approach to geopolitics. De-constructing the myth of ‘benevolent hegemony’ is an important part of this anticipation, and writers like Rogan help with this effort in their bungling inability to bejewel the ugly reality of the Atlanticist designs upon the Middle East and indeed the wider world.
Dropping the pretense of benevolence, this is just hegemony, and when we look at its consequences not just for the suffering people of Syria, but also Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Ukraine, etc. then perhaps these outlets ought to be more accurate and deem such projects ‘malevolent hegemony’ instead.
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM – Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of $1.3 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday
The planned purchase aims to replace within the next decade the oldest submarines in its existing Dolphin fleet, which began entering service in 1999, the Maariv daily reported.
Contacted by AFP, the “Defense Ministry” declined to comment on the report.
Israel already has five of the state-of-the-art German submarines, with a sixth due for delivery in 2017.
Foreign military sources and governments say the Dolphins can be equipped with missiles armed with nuclear warheads.
They believe Israel has between 100 and 200 warheads and missiles capable of delivering them.
The new submarines are said to be more advanced, longer, and equipped with better accessories, the newspaper added.
Iran’s ambassador and permanent representative to the United Nations has held the Israel regime responsible for the desperate plight of the Palestinian nation and exacerbation of tensions in the Middle East.
“The illegal and brutal Israeli occupation continues and causes so much anguish to the Palestinian people, and dangerously inflames tensions on the volatile situation in the region. The Israeli regime continues to breach international law, including humanitarian and human rights. By doing so, it inflicts widespread suffering to civilians and deliberately destabilizes the situation, with far–reaching and serious consequences for peace and security in the Middle East and beyond,” Gholam Ali Khoshroo stated at a Security Council Open Debate on “Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question” on Wednesday.
He further lambasted the Tel Aviv regime’s systematic violations of Palestinians’ rights and international law, including house demolitions, forced displacement of civilians, detentions of minors, and incessant provocations by illegal settlers and extremists at revered sites, particularly al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds.
Khoshroo said the Israeli regime has continually intensified its illegal and oppressive measures against the defenseless Palestinian population over the past years, killed and injured many civilians, and deprived Palestinians of their right to protection.
The Iranian diplomat then pointed to Israel’s settlement expansion activities in the occupied West Bank, stating that they are in clear breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, constitute war crimes under Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and demonstrate that Israel has never had any interest in peace with the Palestinians and its participation in the so-called peace process has only been aimed at covering up its policy of aggression.
Turning to Israel’s blockade on the impoverished Gaza Strip, the Iranian UN ambassador said the siege “is causing massive deprivation, hopelessness and a grave humanitarian crisis. The destructive impact of such Israeli violations is immense as reflected in rising tensions, deteriorating socio-economic conditions, and deepening among the Palestinian civilian population.”
Khoshroo also blamed illegal foreign intervention, extremism and violence for the ongoing conflicts in Libya, Iraq, Syria and Yemen.
“These problems have persisted and deepened because the international community has failed to do its part in dealing with the root causes, and naive trans-regional players have done erroneous actions,” he pointed out.
Saudi Arabia’s military aggression on Yemen
Elsewhere in his remarks, Khoshroo referred to Riyadh’s aerial bombardment campaign against its crisis-hit southern neighbor, stressing that the airstrikes have killed or permanently maimed thousands of civilians, including women and children, displaced millions of people, and turned Yemen from a disadvantaged country into a devastated one.
“All these horrendous and heinous attacks, which display total disregard for human life and international law are happening under the watch of Security Council, which has failed to take any action to stop them,” the Iranian diplomat said.
Saudi Arabia has been engaged in an atrocious campaign against Yemen since March 2015. The United Nations puts the death toll from the onslaught at about 10,000.
Wow, the world gets crazier every moment! Stephen Lewis, former socialist NDP leader from Canada’s province of Ontario was asked about PM Justin Trudeau’s letter to the UN asking for a special General Assembly meeting, as reported by the CBC yesterday:
The Canadian Mission to the United Nations has submitted a rare request asking the president of the General Assembly for a meeting of all 193 member states to “explore concerted action to apply pressure on the parties of the violence [in Syria],” now in its sixth year.
ON CBC this morning (Friday, October 14, 2016) Lewis was briefly interviewed by the CBC and clearly and distinctly chose the U.S. /NATO / western imperialist /mainstream media (MSM) position on Syria. He called Canada’s moves “artful and important.” His reasons were shallow and demonstrated clearly that his socialist ideals – at least as an international socialist – are not very near and dear to his heart.
He commented that “war crimes are being committed by Russia” but hopefully that “Russia may at some point be forced to reconsider,” its position. When questioned further on this he said he did not think that Russia – more specifically Putin, our now necessary evil ‘other’ personified as one man – would change its actions. Why? Because “Putin doesn’t care”, he wants to show that “Russia is back” and that is a “terrifying proposal.”
Double standards abound
Apparently the letter was co-sponsored by 68 other countries. All of them for sure sycophantic allies of the U.S. empire…. but perhaps underneath something unintended may occur.
Lewis said the meeting of the UN would “allow the world to express its outrage” at Russia’s war crimes, at the “destruction of children…the murder of children.” Most interesting here is that while Russia is being singled out with this narrative, the history of the U.S. empire over the past several decades appears to be getting a clear pass.
Does anyone remember the war in Iraq, an illegal war (all initiators of wars are war criminals) that caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis (many children obviously, as most populations consist of about fifty per cent children)? And before that, an estimated 500 thousand children died as a result of U.S. sanctions against the Hussein regime. When questioned about this, then U.S. Secretary of State said the deaths were worth it for U.S. interests. War crimes? Absolutely.
And what about Libya and the war crimes committed there, with the destruction of civilian infrastructure and attacks against the government that went well beyond the UN sanctioned no-fly zone. More war crimes, more severe unintended consequences – although it did play into U.S. plans to eliminate Syria.
Back to Afghanistan where the U.S. “war on terror” simmers on. War crimes and crimes against humanity were committed there by U.S. forces and its “coalition” forces, including Canada. Afghanistan as you should well know, is now a mess of factional fighting with the Taliban controlling about a third of the country.
Before all those, Serbia was bombed illegally by NATO (which the U.S. leads and in which Canada played a major role), attacking civilian structures such as bridges, industrial plants, public buildings, businesses, and as an aside, the Chinese embassy. This was supposedly a “right to protect” operation, proved to be a preconceived excuse in order to weaken the Serb Republic and further contain a soon to be resurgent Russia. An estimated 500 civilians were killed – sorry, no child count there. But definitely a war crime.
And I probably shouldn’t mention Israel as I will instantly be labelled anti-Semitic, but the war crimes against civilians there – both in the West Bank and Gaza – have been ongoing for decades. The notable case here at least as seen from the MSM perspective, have been the Israeli attacks against the open air prison of Gaza (population now at 2 million). Hundreds of children have been slaughtered there using many “made in the U.S.A.” weapons, including chemical warfare (modified tear gas, phosphorous bombs), serving as well as a testing/proving ground for Israeli manufactured materials in support of their militarized economy. More U.S. supported war crimes.
The U.S. has committed war crimes of an overt or covert nature in 50 countries since WW II, disposing of non-compliant governments with violence against citizens of those sovereign states.
Careful what you wish for
Perhaps, just perhaps, the unintended consequences of the UN meeting might be the bringing to light the war crimes of the U.S., against children, against civilians, against sovereign governments. I don’t expect that as the U.S. controls the MSM for the western world. But to focus a call on Russian war crimes is the height of arrogance and hubris from a nation (Canada) that has supported U.S. war crimes and committed some of its own.
Yes, indeed, let’s have a special General Assembly meeting on war crimes, but let’s do it for the whole world and not just the sycophantic interests of an increasingly belligerent member of the U.S. imperial coalition.
The world does need to express its outrage – at war crimes committed by the U.S., about U.S. support for Saudi war crimes in Yemen, about U.S. support for Saudi support of the various salafist jihadi groups around the world.
Russia is back
Well, yes and no. Russia endured three major invasions from Western Europe (Napoleon, Wilhelm, Hitler), more invasions after WW I from western nations, and suffered under the “shock doctrine” of U.S. neoliberalism. The latter came about as the result of U.S. influence on the drunkard Yeltsin and created a country in decline ruled by oligarchs who stole much of the wealth of the country (Khodorkovsky, Magnitsky among them). Currently, the U.S. has a first strike nuclear policy with missile bases in Poland and Romania within minutes of the Russian heartland.
Not exactly a great history of western accommodation. And now NATO has expanded towards Russia’s borders, yet accuse Russia of aggression (??) – logic not being a strength of the MSM or the politicians of the west. The U.S. initiated the coup in Ukraine, just ask Victoria “F**k the EU” Nuland, partner of Robert Kagan, known neocon warmonger.
The MSM across the west, in collusion with the political elites, are doing their best to create an evil Putin leading an evil Russia trying to regain its empire. That they have succeeded in this image is a testament to the power of the MSM, the ignorance of the people of the west (most particularly in Canada and the U.S.), and the arrogance, hubris, and wilful ignorance of the elite class.
Russia is back (and Canada postures)
– and is scaring the bejesus out of the U.S. and its allies. It has obviously revived its military power, and in many cases is considered to be well ahead of the U.S. It’s economy, in spite of the best intentions of U.S. sanctions, is doing reasonably well as its home grown industries are being forced to develop more, and its agricultural sector has benefited from counter sanctions against EU products. Western action against China have created a Sino-Russian alliance stronger than it ever was during the Sino-Soviet era.
The latter has serious implications for the U.S. desire to be the global hegemon with full spectrum dominance over – everyone and everything. And for that, it is good that Russia is back.
For Canada and Trudeau to attempt to corral the western MSM message into the UN is simply political posturing. Whether it comes from wilful ignorance and arrogance, simple ignorance, simple stupidity, or a pretty boy posturing as the good guy Canadian mediator is difficult to discern. But it is definitely posturing – it is the U.S. that has created the mess in the Middle east, it is the U.S./NATO that has created the belligerence towards Russia, it is the U.S. military /industrial /political /financial complex that has created a world of fear and terror in order to attempt its global hegemony. Finally someone is capable of standing up to that – which unfortunately, given the U.S. propensity for nuclear sword threats, may result in the U.S. having created the perfect storm to induce world war last.
Copyright © Jim Miles, Global Research, 2016
“People don’t trust Hillary Clinton, and no one can agree on why,” begins a sympathetic piece on the Democratic Party presidential candidate in Fast Company last July.
In a CNN poll that same month, only 30 percent of Americans believed Clinton to be “honest and trustworthy.”
If voters don’t know what to make of Clinton or how to read her, the blame may lie directly with the candidate herself. In an April 2013 speech made public by WikiLeaks last week, Clinton confided:
Politics is like sausage being made. It is unsavory, and it always has been that way, but we usually end up where we need to be. But if everybody’s watching, you know, all of the back room discussions and the deals, you know, then people get a little nervous, to say the least. So, you need both a public and a private position.
That last “public vs. private” comment quickly made the media rounds, and confirmed – for her critics – Clinton’s deliberate duplicity on a number of policy positions.
WikiLeaks has provided an opportunity to delve into some of these, so let’s take a look at one very prominent feature of Clinton’s foreign policy agenda: Syria, a country that stands at the center of a potential global confrontation today.
Not a Syrian uprising; a regime change plan
A 2012 email released by WikiLeaks last year shows that, behind the scenes, Clinton’s State Department was calculating its Syria policy using entirely different metrics than its publicly-stated narrative of supporting reforms and rejecting violence:
It is the strategic relationship between Iran and the regime of Bashar Assad in Syria that makes it possible for Iran to undermine Israel’s security — not through a direct attack, which in the thirty years of hostility between Iran and Israel has never occurred, but through its proxies in Lebanon, like Hezbollah, that are sustained, armed and trained by Iran via Syria. The end of the Assad regime would end this dangerous alliance. Israel’s leadership understands well why defeating Assad is now in its interests.
The email, written by an unidentified person and included within the WikiLeaks ‘Clinton archive,’ lays out a plan:
Washington should start by expressing its willingness to work with regional allies like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar to organize, train and arm Syrian rebel forces. The announcement of such a decision would, by itself, likely cause substantial defections from the Syrian military. Then, using territory in Turkey and possibly Jordan, US diplomats and Pentagon officials can start strengthening the opposition… Arming the Syrian rebels and using Western air power to ground Syrian helicopters and airplanes is a low-cost high payoff approach.
Arming a Syrian rebellion from outside the country was already a consideration “from the very beginning,” according to a recent WikiLeaks release of a June 2013 speech by Clinton:
So, the problem for the US and the Europeans has been from the very beginning: What is it you – who is it you are going to try to arm. And you probably read in the papers my view was we should try to find some of the groups that were there that we thought we could build relationships with and develop some covert connections that might then at least give us some insight into what is going on inside Syria.
Certainly, we know that by early 2012, the Obama and Erdogan administrations had struck a deal to establish a rat-line transporting weapons and ammunition from Libya to Syria – via the CIA and MI6, and funded by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
The attack on the US consulate in Benghazi which killed US Ambassador Christopher Stevens was only a temporary setback. Weapons and financial assistance to militants in Syria, however, continued to flow from America’s regional allies without any US push-back, even though Washington clearly knew arms were being siphoned to extremists.
A declassified DIA document from August 2012 circulated to Clinton’s State Department states plainly that “the Salafist, Muslim Brotherhood and AQI (Al-Qaeda in Iraq) are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria” and that “the West, Gulf countries and Turkey support the opposition.”
But if US Special Forces were involved in driving arms and fighters into Syria in early 2012, the groundwork would have had to have begun many, many months before. The US military’s unconventional warfare (UW) strategy requires that target-state population perceptions are first “groomed” into accepting an armed insurrection, using “propaganda and political and psychological efforts to discredit the government”… creating “local and national ‘agitation’”… helping organize “boycotts, strikes and other efforts to suggest public discontent”… before beginning the “infiltration of foreign organizers and advisors and foreign propaganda, material, money, weapons and equipment.”
You get an idea of how this “propaganda” and “grooming” works in a June 2011 email from Clinton’s recently-departed Director of Policy Planning Anne-Marie Slaughter, who openly calls for fabricating sectarian narratives to incite Syrian protestors:
This suggests US should be making much more of the ways in which Syrian regime is simulating violence. Can’t we call for a meeting of the UNSC where we do not call for action but simply present information along the lines of what is recounted below so as to ‘bring it to the attention of the Council’ in a way that then has greater credibility globally? Making the point repeatedly that the regime wants this to look like/turn into sectarian violence? At the very least that can be broadcast back into Syria in various ways that will encourage protestors. There is an information war going on; we can do much more to elevate and legitimate the truth.
This is business as usual for a US State Department well-versed in sowing sectarian discord in the Middle East – all while publicly denouncing sectarian strife. A WikiLeaks email from 2006 shows that this thinking was already well-entrenched in Foggy Bottom, with a focus on “exploiting vulnerabilities” – particularly “sectarian” ones – inside Syria.
Fueling the sectarian Jihad
By late 2011, US intelligence had assessed that Al-Qaeda was operating inside Syria. This information was public, but not widely disseminated. Instead, Clinton’s team focused heavily on flogging the narrative that “Assad must go” because of his government’s widespread human rights violations.
Clinton liberally used the “humanitarian” pretext to advance a regime change agenda – pushing, behind the scenes, for increased assistance to militants and direct US military intervention, while publicly decrying the escalating violence inside Syria.
But did she give a toss about keeping Syrians safe? The evidence suggests otherwise. In this new WikiLeaks release of a speech to the Jewish United Fund in August 2013 – “flagged,” incidentally, by her staffers who worried about its content – Clinton outlines one possible Syria policy option:
One way is a very hands off, step back, we don’t have a dog in this hunt, let them kill themselves until they get exhausted, and then we’ll figure out how to deal with what the remnants are. That’s a position held by people who believe there is no way, not just for the United States but others, to stop the killing before the people doing the killing and the return killing are tired of killing each other. So it’s a very hands off approach.
To any observer of the foreign-fueled Syrian war of attrition, it looks very much like Clinton opted for this course of action.
And given that Washington’s allies in the Syrian fight consisted mainly of head-chopping, jihadist foot soldiers, Clinton’s scenario of a killing field to keep all sides “exhausted” may have even been the starting plan.
These fighters came equipped with a militant, sectarian mindset courtesy of Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar – under the supervision, of course, of a CIA that cut its teeth doing the exact same thing with the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan.
A WikiLeaks email sent from Hillary Clinton to her now-campaign chief John Podesta in August 2014 shows that the former Secretary of State is fully aware that her allies were partial to supporting terrorists:
While this military/paramilitary operation is moving forward, we need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region.
Qatar and Saudi Arabia are, of course, two staunch US allies in the region that host American military bases and, apparently, also support ISIL.
Another October 2013 Clinton speech “flagged” by her campaign staff, and released by WikiLeaks this week, has her saying:
The Saudis and others are shipping large amounts of weapons – and pretty indiscriminately – not at all targeted toward the people that we think would be the more moderate, least likely, to cause problems in the future.
The State Department knows all too well that both fighters and weapons are fungible in the Syrian militant marketplace. It is a key reason the US has always resisted naming those groups it considers “moderate” rebels. Arms and supplies to US-backed groups have often found their way to ISIL and Al-Qaeda, with photo evidence aplenty making the social media rounds.
Despite these loaded disclosures, Clinton and other US policymakers still flog outdated narratives about an “evil Syrian regime killing innocent civilians” while ignoring the narrative they know to be true: bloodthirsty jihadists armed to the teeth by ideologically-aligned US allies.
This Syrian conflict – privately, at least – is about regime change at all costs for the hawkish side of the policy establishment which includes the CIA, Pentagon brass and Clinton. Publicly, however, it’s still about “crimes against humanity” – whatever that means today.
Earlier this month, Clinton began to publicly reveal that truth in advance of the November presidential election. Reuters reports Clinton as saying “removing President Bashar al-Assad is the top priority in Syria.”
She is also once again touting a “no-fly zone” over Syria – much as she did with Libya. In yet another speech ‘flagged’ by her campaign and released by WikiLeaks – this one delivered to Goldman Sachs at their CEO conference in June 2013 – Clinton explains:
To have a no-fly zone you have to take out all of the air defense, many of which are located in populated areas. So our missiles, even if they are standoff missiles so we’re not putting our pilots at risk – you’re going to kill a lot of Syrians. So all of a sudden this intervention that people talk about so glibly becomes an American and NATO involvement where you take a lot of civilians.
So Clinton is advocating for a no-fly zone despite the fact that she recognizes she’s “going to kill a lot of Syrians.” Which then puts that other speech of hers about letting Syrians “kill themselves until they get exhausted” into context.
Her only regional allies in this endeavor will be the Saudis and Qataris, who we now know support ISIL and other terrorists inside Syria. We also know that Clinton will continue to ignore this indiscretion – not because of what she says, but because of what she does.
Her public-versus-private position on the Saudis, after all, has been bandied about since the 2010 WikiLeaks State Department cables were released.
In 2009, a secret WikiLeaks cable signed off by then- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reads, in part:
Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide… Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, LeT (Laskhar-e Taiba), and other terrorist groups… It has been an ongoing challenge to persuade Saudi officials to treat terrorist financing emanating from Saudi Arabia as a strategic priority.
Yet by 2011, Clinton was ushering through the biggest weapons sale to Saudi Arabia in US history – a massive $67 Billion arms dump into the epicenter of global terror.
Clinton is not averse to cashing in on Saudi riches for her and her family’s foundation either. The Clinton Foundation has received millions of dollars from Saudi, Qatari and other Gulf sources, despite the role their governments have played in funding global Jihad. And her campaign manager’s brother, Tony Podesta, just signed on to furnish the Saudi government with very expensive public relations services earlier this year.
There is something schizophrenic about Hillary Clinton’s compartmentalization of issues that speaks to the very competence of her judgment. Her whole private-versus-public-positions shtick is antithetical to the transparency, process and accountability demanded by democracy.
She speaks of her Iraq “mistake,” yet we have still not heard what lessons she has learned. And it grates, because we can see she has repeated them again and again, in Libya and in Syria.
The “public” Hillary Clinton supports self-determination, freedom and human rights for Syrians. The “private” Hillary Clinton supports the wholesale massacre of Syrians by a closely allied network of depraved sectarian terrorists – in order to weaken Iran and strengthen Israel.
If you’re one of those Americans who don’t trust her, you have good reason. At this point it is hard to ascertain if Clinton herself knows what her truth is anymore.
The events in the Middle East, Syria and Aleppo are the focus of global attention. Rarely has a battle been so decisive to the outcome of a war and the fate of hundreds of millions of people around the world
Hillary Clinton in the last presidential debate repeatedly called for the establishment of a no-fly zone (NFZ) in Syria. The concept, reiterated several times, clashes with the revelation contained in her private emails admitting that the implementation of a NFZ would entail the increased deaths of Syrian civilians. In a recent hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, General Philip Breedlove was asked what kind of effort would be required for the US armed forces to impose a NFZ over Syrian skies. With obvious embarrassment, the General was forced to admit that such a request would involve hitting Russian and Syrian aircraft and vehicles, opening the door to a direct confrontation between Moscow and Washington, a decision the General was simply not willing to take. The military leadership has always shown a readiness to implement the military option; so this time they must have sniffed the danger of a direct conflict with Moscow.
The Kremlin has publicly admitted to deploying in Syria the S-400 and S-300V4 advanced anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems respectively. The presence of the defense complex was intentionally announced as a factor of deterrence and is a logical strategy. The message to Washington is clear: any unidentified object in Syrian skies will be shot down. The United States bases much of its military strength on the constant need to project power, making its opponents believe that it possesses capabilities that others do not hold. Therefore it is very unlikely that the Pentagon would want to reveal to the world the worth of their stealth systems and their ‘legendary‘ American cruise missiles when faced with the S-300V4 or S-400. The Kosovo War serves to remind us of the F-117 that was shot down by Soviet systems (S-125) dating from the 1960s.
Hillary Clinton’s threats against Moscow were not the only ones. The present policy makers in Washington continue to make aggressive statements demonstrating their total loss of touch with reality. In recent weeks, hysterical reactions were recorded by the Pentagon, the State Department, top military generals, and even representatives of American diplomacy. To emphasize the unhappiness prevalent in some Washington circles, several articles appeared in The Washington Post and The New York Times calling for the imposition of a US no-fly zone in Syria, ignoring the consequences highlighted by Dunford. There are two hypotheses under consideration: hitting the Syrian army air bases with cruise missiles, or the use of stealth planes to bomb Damascus’s A2/AD installations.
Behind Washington’s frantic reactions and vehement protests is the probability of military defeat. The US does not have any ability to prevent the liberation of Aleppo by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and the Russian Federation. In the last fifteen days, the SAA and Russia have achieved significant progress, and it is this that has led to an escalation of tensions. Some of the most significant episodes reflecting this over the last few days include: jets of the international coalition hitting the SAA, causing 90 deaths; US government officials threatening Russia with the downing of her planes and the bombings of her cities, resulting in Russian civilian deaths; and the blaming of Moscow for an attack on a humanitarian convoy. The climax seemed to have been reached at the United Nations where the US representatives prevented a Russian resolution condemning the terrorist attacks on the Russian embassy in Damascus. It is interesting to note that fifteen years after the attacks of September 11, 2001, Washington finds itself defending Al Nusra Front (AKA Al Qaeda) in an official United Nations meeting; something to ponder. But apparently there is no limit to provocations, and a few days after this incredible denouement, the Pentagon was keen to point out that the possibility of a preventive nuclear strike against Russia is still valid.
It therefore seems almost simplistic to emphasize that because of the success of the SAA, Washington, Ankara, Riyadh, Doha and Tel Aviv are showing unprecedented signs of weakness and nervousness. Their commitment to overthrowing the legitimate government of Assad has failed. The combined action of the Syrian and Russian ground, air and sea forces pushed Washington and the corporate media to move from words of condemnation to increasingly open threats.
Last month the situation against the terrorists quickly changed in the north of Syria thanks to the Syrian Arab Army and its allies supported by the West. In Aleppo, the SAA continues to work every day with great success toward the city’s liberation. Neighborhoods and large areas are back under government control. The relentless advances of the troops loyal to Assad are altering the course of the war in Syria in favor of Damascus, eliminating the US attempts to remove the legitimate Syrian government. A victory in Aleppo would mean the near certainty of defeat for the terrorists in the remaining areas of the country. The closing of the border with Turkey would cut the supply lines, with consequences and repercussions throughout Syria. What would still remain open are a few crossing areas in the south of the country near the border with Jordan that have always been a supply source for terrorists. However, it would be very difficult for this supply line alone to sustain the conflict or adequately replace the one closed north of Aleppo. Especially in the north through Turkey, and to the west through the uncontrolled border with Iraq, the terrorists receive continuous supplies. The liberation of Mosul by the Iraqi army, Aleppo by the SAA, and Der Al-Zur in the near future, will pave the way for the strategic recapture of Raqqa, the last bastion of Daesh, thereby defeating even the Plan B to partition the country.
With the failure of the northern front, the terrorists will be faced with the probable prospect of the complete collapse of their operations nationwide. Some will continue to fight, but most will throw down their weapons knowing that they have lost the war. Once this is achieved, the liberation of the rest of Syria should be a matter of a few months. It should be remembered that the recapture of Aleppo would guarantee a crushing defeat for the regional sponsors of international terrorism (Qatar and Saudi Arabia).
Still, it is not only the advance of Aleppo that is cause for concern for enemies of Syria. Obama and his administration are now irrelevant, also because of one of the most controversial presidential elections in recent history. The uncertain future of Washington’s foreign policy has prompted partners such as Riyadh, Doha, Ankara and Tel Aviv not to hesitate in further adding fuel to the Syrian conflagration, worried about any future inactivity from Washington and eager to advance their own military solution to the conflict.
In the case of Ankara, the invasion of Iraq and Syria is a serious danger that risks plunging the region into further chaos and destruction, with the Iraqi prime minister not hesitating to label the Turkish move reckless and warning of the conflict expanding into a regional conflict. Saudi Arabia’s problems are even greater, as it does not have the ability, in terms of men and means, to intervene directly in Syria because of its disastrous involvement in the war in Yemen. The speed with which confidence in Riyadh is crumbling is unprecedented. Her large currency reserves are dwindling, and it seems it is because tens of billions of dollars have been squandered in financing the military action against Yemen. Another example of independent military action concerns Israel. Four years into the Syrian conflict, Israel continues its secret war against Hezbollah and Iranian troops, who are engaged in areas bordering Israel in fighting al-Nusra Front and Daesh. For Tel Aviv, there are still two options desirable to the Syrian crisis, both in line with their strategy, namely, the continuation of chaos and disorder, or a balkanization of Syria. In both cases, the objective is to expand Israel’s sphere of influence far beyond the Golan Heights, which were occupied illegally years ago.
The unsuccessful attempts of Turkey, Israel and Saudi Arabia to change events in Syria have highlighted the growing strategic misunderstandings between the United States and regional partners, misunderstandings that often oblige Ankara, Riyadh and Tel Aviv to turn to the Russian Federation for confidential dialogue, since Moscow is the only player able to adjust the delicate Middle East equilibrium.
In the near future, it remains evident to Moscow and Damascus that some risks still exist, despite a well-considered overall strategy. The acceleration in the liberation of Aleppo also has an ancillary purpose that aims to minimize maneuverability for the next American administration. In a certain way, it is a race against time: Aleppo must be liberated in order to chart the way towards the end of the conflict before the next US president comes into office in January 2017. It is yet to be seen whether Clinton or Trump plan to go beyond Obama’s empty threats, but understandably Damascus and Moscow have no intention of being caught off guard, especially with a probable Clinton presidency.
After years of negotiations with the schizophrenic diplomacy of the US, Moscow and Damascus have decided to protect themselves against any sudden decisions that may come from the American «deep state». Deploying the most advanced systems existing in air defense, Moscow has called Washington’s bluff as no one has done in years. The red line for Moscow was crossed by the tragic events of September 17 in Der al-zur. The creation by the Russians of a no-fly zone over Syrian skies has been repeatedly suggested. But incredibly, in the hours immediately after the cowardly attack against Syrian troops, the US Department of Defense and the State Department proposed the creation of a no-fly-zone that would serve to ground Russian and Syrian planes. It was a brazen and provocative proposal for Damascus and Moscow if there ever was one.
Sensing the danger in these words, Moscow acted immediately, deploying cutting-edge systems to protect Syrians skies with equipment that can shoot down cruise missiles, stealth aircraft, and even ballistic missiles (S-300 and S-400). To make sure Washington fully understood the message, the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) reiterated what was already publicly announced, namely that any unidentified object would be shot down immediately, as there would not be any sufficient time for Russian operators to verify the original launch, trajectory and final target of any objects detected. It is a clear warning to the US and its long-standing strategy that requires the use of large amounts of cruise missiles to destroy anti-aircraft systems in order to pave the way for a no-fly zone as was seen in Libya. The Russian MoD has even specified that American fifth-generation stealth aircraft could be easily targeted, alluding to a radius of operation of the S-200 systems, S-300 and S-400 (and all variants) that would surprise many international observers. This statement also seems to indirectly confirm another theory that remains pure speculation, which is that during the September 17 attack by the US on the SAA in Der Al-Zur seem, some jets from the international coalition were targeted by Russian or Syrian air-defense systems (perhaps S-200s or S-400s), forcing the airplanes to retreat before facing the prospect of being shot down.
Whatever the intentions that are hidden behind Washington’s hysterical threats, Moscow has suggested several asymmetrical scenarios in response to a direct attack on its personnel in Syria. In addition to the S-300 and S-400 systems, the MoD has openly declared its knowledge of the exact locations of US special forces in Syria, a clear reference to the Syrian and Russian ability to strike US soldiers operating alongside terrorists or ‘moderate’ rebels.
All of Major-General Igor Konashenkov’s recent press conferences have clearly shown new systems deployed in Syria for air defense, a more than intentional advertisement. Aside from deterrence continuing to be one preferred instrument adopted by Moscow, the unusually strong, direct and unambiguous words of the Russian MoD easily show how the patience of Moscow and Damascus has been exhausted, especially following the recent sequence of events as well as repeated threats.
In such a scenario, the US can only rely on one weapon: complaints, threats and hysterical crying amplified by the mainstream media, generals and the official spokespeople of dozens of agencies in Washington. Nothing that can actually stop the liberating action of the SAA and its allies.
The United States has no alternatives available to prevent an outcome to the conflict that is undesirable for it. Whichever route it chooses, there is no way to change the events in Syria. Even American generals had to admit that a no-fly zone in Syria is out of the question. It is easy for US State Department spokesperson Admiral Kirby to launch empty threats, but it is more difficult for the military to act on these threats while avoiding a nuclear apocalypse. Whatever the outcome of the upcoming presidential elections, the war in Syria for the United States and its regional partners is irretrievably lost, and the hysteria and provocations of recent weeks is symptomatic of the frustration and nervousness that has not been common for Americans in recent years.
Britain is fighting at least seven covert wars in the Middle East and North Africa, outside of any democratic oversight or control. Whitehall has in effect gone underground, with neither parliament nor the public being allowed to debate, scrutinise or even know about these wars. To cover themselves, Ministers are now often resorting to lying about what they are authorising. While Britain has identified Islamic State (among others) as the enemy abroad, it is clear that it sees the British public and parliament as the enemy at home.
Britain began training Syrian rebel forces from bases in Jordan in 2012. This was also when the SAS was reported to be ‘slipping into Syria on missions’ against Islamic State. Now, British special forces are ‘mounting hit and run raids against IS deep inside eastern Syria dressed as insurgent fighters’ and ‘frequently cross into Syria to assist the New Syrian Army’ from their base in Jordan. British special forces also provide training, weapons and other equipment to the New Syrian Army.
British aircraft began covert strikes against IS targets in Syria in 2015, months before Parliament voted in favour of overt action in December 2015. These strikes were conducted by British pilots embedded with US and Canadian forces.
Britain has also been operating a secret drone warfare programme in Syria. Last year Reaper drones killed British IS fighters in Syria, again before parliament approved military action. As I have previously argued, British covert action and support of the Syrian rebels is, along with horrific Syrian government/Russian violence, helping to prolong a terrible conflict.
Hundreds of British troops are officially in Iraq to train local security forces. But they are also engaged in covert combat operations against IS. One recent report suggests that Britain has more than 200 special force soldiers in the country, operating out of a fortified base within a Kurdish Peshmerga camp south of Mosul.
British Reaper drones were first deployed over Iraq in 2014 and are now flown remotely by satellite from an RAF base in Lincolnshire. Britain has conducted over 200 drones strikes in Iraq since November 2014.
SAS forces have been secretly deployed to Libya since the beginning of this year, working with Jordanian special forces embedded in the British contingent. This follows a mission by MI6 and the RAF in January to gather intelligence on IS and draw up potential targets for air strikes. British commandos are now reportedly fighting and directing assaults on Libyan frontlines and running intelligence, surveillance and logistical support operations from a base in the western city of Misrata.
But a team of 15 British forces are also reported to be based in a French-led multinational military operations centre in Benghazi, eastern Libya, supporting renegade Libyan general Khalifa Haftar. In July 2016, Middle East Eye reported that this British involvement was helping to coordinate air strikes in support of Haftar, whose forces are opposed to the Tripoli-based government that Britain is supposed to be supporting.
The government says it has no military personnel based in Yemen. Yet a report by Vice News in April, based on numerous interviews with officials, revealed that British special forces in Yemen, who were seconded to MI6, were training Yemeni troops fighting Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and also had forces infiltrated in AQAP. The same report also found that British military personnel were helping with drone strikes against AQAP. Britain was playing ‘a crucial and sustained role with the CIA in finding and fixing targets, assessing the effect of strikes, and training Yemeni intelligence agencies to locate and identify targets for the US drone program’. In addition, the UK spybase at Menwith Hill in Yorkshire facilitates US drone strikes in Yemen.
Britain has been widely reported (outside the mainstream media) as supporting the brutal Saudi war in Yemen, which has caused thousands of civilian deaths, most of them due to Saudi air strikes. Indeed, Britain is party to the war. The government says there are around 100 UK military personnel based in Saudi Arabia including a ‘small number’ at ‘Saudi MOD and Operational Centres’. One such Centre, in Riyadh, coordinates the Saudi bombing campaign in Yemen and includes British military personnel who are in the command room as air strikes are carried out and who have access to the bombing targets.
The UK is of course arming the Saudi campaign: The British government disclosed on 13 October that the Saudis have used five types of British bombs and missiles in Yemen. On the same day, it lied to Parliament that Britain was ‘not a party’ to the war in Yemen.
A secret ‘memorandum of understanding’ that Britain signed with Saudi Arabia in 2014 has not been made public since it ‘would damage the UK’s bilateral relationship’ with the Kingdom, the government states. It is likely that this pact includes reference to the secret British training of Syrian rebels in Saudi Arabia, which has taken place since mid-2015. Operating from a desert base in the north of the country, British forces have been teaching Syrian forces infantry skills as part of a US-led training programme.
In Afghanistan, the public was told that British forces withdrew at the end of 2014. However, British forces stayed behind to help create and train an Afghan special forces unit. Despite officially only having ‘advisors’ in Afghanistan, in August 2015 it was reported that British covert forces were fighting IS and Taliban fighters. The SAS and SBS, along with US special forces, were ‘taking part in military operations almost every night’ as the insurgents closed in on the capital Kabul.
In 2014, the government stated that it had ended its drone air strikes programme in Afghanistan, which had begun in 2008 and covered much of the country. Yet last year it was reported that British special forces were calling in air strikes using US drones.
Pakistan and Somalia
Pakistan and Somalia are two other countries where Britain is conducting covert wars. Menwith Hill facilitates US drone strikes against jihadists in both countries, with Britain’s GCHQ providing ‘locational intelligence’ to US forces for use in these attacks.
The government has said that it has 27 military personnel in Somalia who are developing the national army and supporting the African Union Mission. Yet in 2012 it was reported that the SAS was covertly fighting against al-Shabab Islamist terrorists in Somalia, working with Kenyan forces in order to target leaders. This involved up to 60 SAS soldiers, close to a full squadron, including Forward Air Controllers who called in air strikes against al-Shabab targets by the Kenyan air force. In early 2016, it was further reported that Jordan’s King Abdullah, whose troops operate with UK special forces, was saying that his troops were ready with Britain and Kenya to go ‘over the border’ to attack al-Shabaab.
The RAF’s secret drone war, which involves a fleet of 10 Reaper drones, has been in permanent operation in Afghanistan since October 2007, but covertly began operating outside Afghanistan in 2014. The NGO Reprieve notes that Britain provides communications networks to the CIA ‘without which the US would not be able to operate this programme’. It says that this is a particular matter of concern as the US covert drone programme is illegal.
Even this may not be the sum total of British covert operations in the region. The government stated in 2015 that it had 177 military personnel embedded in other countries’ forces, with 30 personnel working with the US military. It is possible that these forces are also engaged in combat in the region. For example, the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Philip Jones, has said that in the Gulf, British pilots fly US F18s from the decks of US aircraft carriers. This means that ‘US’ air strikes might well be carried out by British pilots.
Britain has many other military and intelligence assets in the region. Files leaked by Edward Snowden show that Britain has a network of three GCHQ spy bases in Oman – codenamed ‘Timpani’, ‘Guitar’ and ‘Clarinet’ – which tap in to various undersea cables passing through the Strait of Hormuz into the Gulf. These bases intercept and process vast quantities of emails, telephone calls and web traffic on behalf of Western intelligence agencies, which information is then shared with the National Security Agency in the US.
The state of Qatar houses the anti-IS coalition’s Combined Air Operations Centre at Al Udeid airbase. The government says it has seven military personnel ‘permanently assigned to Qatar’ and an additional number of ‘temporary personnel’ working at the airbase. These are likely to be covert forces; the government says that ‘we do not discuss specific numbers for reasons of safeguarding operational security’.
Similarly, the government says it has six military personnel ‘permanently assigned’ to the United Arab Emirates and an additional number of ‘temporary personnel’ at the UAE’s Al Minhad airbase. Britain also has military assets at Manama harbour, Bahrain, whose repressive armed forces are also being secretly trained by British commandos.
Kenya and Turkey
Kenya hosts Britain’s Kahawa Garrishon barracks and Laikipia Air Base, from where thousands of troops who carry out military exercises in Kenya’s harsh terrain can be deployed on active operations in the Middle East. Turkey has also offered a base for British military training. In 2015, for example, Britain deployed several military trainers to Turkey as part of the US-led training programme in Syria, providing small arms, infantry tactics and medical training to rebel forces.
The web of deceit
When questioned about these covert activities, Ministers have two responses. One is to not to comment on special forces’ operations. The other is to lie, which has become so routine as to be official government policy. The reasoning is simple – the government believes the public simply has no right to know of these operations, let alone to influence them.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon told parliament in July that the government is ‘committed to the convention that before troops are committed to combat the House of Commons should have an opportunity to debate the matter’. This is plainly not true, as the extent of British covert operations show.
Similarly, it was first reported in May that British troops were secretly engaged in combat in Libya. This news came two days after Fallon told MPs that Britain was not planning ‘any kind of combat role’ to fight IS in Libya.
There are many other examples of this straightforward web of deceit. In July 2016, the government issued six separate corrections to previous ministerial statements in which they claimed that Saudi Arabia is not targeting civilians or committing war crimes in Yemen. However, little noticed was that these corrections also claimed that ‘the UK is not a party’ to the conflict in Yemen. This claim is defied by various news reports in the public domain.
British foreign policy is in extreme mode, whereby Ministers do not believe they should be accountable to the public. This is the very definition of dictatorship. Although in some of these wars, Britain is combatting terrorist forces that are little short of evil, it is no minor matter that several UK interventions have encouraged these very same forces and prolonged wars, all the while being regularly disastrous for the people of the region. Britain’s absence of democracy needs serious and urgent challenging.
twitter – @markcurtis30
It should be personal to all of us. Yemen, regularly portrayed as the poorest nation in the Arab world, is proving itself to be the richest in courage, resourcefulness and resilience.
Ever since March 2015, some of you may have noticed how oil-rich Saudi Arabia, with the United States at its side, have been waging genocidal war against the Yemeni people.
Yemen are a people under attack by an undeclared super-power coalition comprised of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, US, UK, EU, UAE and Israel. As in Iraq, while the Yemeni people are under attack from super-powers, they are simultaneously being collectively punished by the illegal sanctions imposed by a corrupt United Nations body.
Sanctions imposed by resolution 2216, against 5 named individuals, on the pretext of legitimizing an illegitimate fugitive ex-president, Saudi Arabia and Washington’s hand-picked puppet leader, Mansour Hadi, who demanded that neighbouring Saudi Arabia bomb his own people – even after Hadi had resigned twice from an already over-extended presidential term, before fleeing to his alma mater in Riyadh.
UN sanctions imposed upon 5 named individuals yet being exploited by the US/UK/EU backed Saudi coalition to collectively starve and punish 27 million Yemeni people.
This fact has been consistently omitted and waxed over by western political appeasers and ethically challenged mainstream media apologists – and their ignorant and conceded omission is one of the primary reasons why this conflict has been allowed to go from bad to worse.
To compare Saudi Arabia’s belligerent actions in Yemen to Nazi Germany’s undeclared wars of aggression prior to WWII is no exaggeration. In fact, one could make the argument that this Saudi-US joint venture is much worse, and a far more dangerous precedent. Likewise, the failure of a corrupt UN (who effectively sold Saudi Arabia its seat on at the head of the UN Human Rights Council ), led by an impotent Secretary General in Ban-ki Moon, to censure Saudi Arabia for its flagrant violation of international law, the Nuremberg Principles and the entire Geneva Convention content and implied framework – leaves the UN in the exact same position as the League of Nations in 1938.
This is most certainly the case on paper, and with each passing moment we are nudging ever closer to geopolitical déjà vu.
This is one of the most egregious war crimes we’ve seen so far in Yemen, and considering what Saudi Arabia has already done to date, this is off the scale. On the 9th October 2016, the Saudi ‘coalition’ targeted one of the biggest public halls in Yemen’s capital Sanaa.
Officials said two air strikes hit the grand hall of ceremonies, where a post funeral gathering was held to receive condolences for the late Ali bin Ali al-Ruwaishan, the father of Interior Minister, Jalal al-Ruwaishan.
A total of 4 missiles were launched into crowds of civilians. The first strike, two missiles tore into the hall and surrounding areas leaving dozens dead and dying. Then, as funeral-goers clambered over the smouldering rubble to rescue the injured, Saudi coalition planes returned for the double tap air-strike, targeting the civilian rescuers.
Yesterday, the under secretary of the Public Health Ministry in Yemen told journalist and Middle East commentator, Marwa Osman, the death toll had risen to 458 and hundreds more injured. In an interview with RT, Osman went on to describe, 213 bodies were reported as charred, burned beyond recognition, 67 bodies were completely dismembered and 187 bodies torn apart by shrapnel. The brutality of this attack is evident from the horrific photos that appeared on social media very quickly after the event, as Yemenis were reeling from the scale of the massacre.
Yemen civil defence and army recovering bodies from the Saudi coalition bombed ceremony hall in Sanaa (Photo: Yemen the Forgotten War)
The hundreds more injured have been described as “bleeding to death in the streets“. The following report came in from Sanaa hours after the attack:
“Saudi-American airstrikes targeted the biggest hall in Sanaa. The hall was hit by 4 missiles, 2 air-strikes. When rescuers went to the aid of the dying and injured Saudi jets attacked for the second time in their double tap operation. It’s impossible to count the deaths. Officially they are saying less than 500 but many more are dying because they can’t be treated due to the absence of medical supplies and hospital facilities. This is entirely due to the UN sanctions and effective land, air and sea blockades. The hall is 2km from our home and 150m from my university but luckily, today I was not there.
Yesterday we killed several mercenary leaders in Mareb and Saudi commanders so today they are taking their revenge on the innocent people” ~ information supplied to Vanessa Beeley of 21st Century Wire.
According to Hassan Al Haifi, writer, academic and political commentator, living in Sanaa, the Saudi attack was deliberate:
“The mourners were paying tribute to General Jalal Al-Rouishan, Min of Int, who hails from a leading family of Khowlan Al-Tayyal Tribe, a leading and powerful Yemeni tribe.”
Al Haifi commented that this was a cynical and brutal attack by the Saudi coalition, intending to kill as many Ansarullah and Ali Abdullah Saleh officials and supporters as possible. A number of Saleh’s closest friends and allies were killed by the strikes along with a smaller number of Ansarullah members. Al Haifi, himself should have been at the ceremony but had been delayed and fortunately was not there when the Saudi jets launched their missiles into the throngs of mourners.
Saudi air-strike on Sanaa (Photo supplied to 21st Century Wire from Yemen)
The US State Department immediately swung into damage limitation mode and cranked up their hypocrisy to protect their Saudi coalition military industrial complex clients. John Kirby even deployed the “self-defence” terminology usually reserved for their other regional, arms guzzling ally with close links to Al Qaeda, Israel.
The bloodshed and suffering of the Yemeni people was reduced to an obscene game of semantics by a cold and calculating US State Department, as their multi billion dollar arms industry registered obscene trading levels with the Saudi coalition in 2015. In the first 21 months of Saudi-US illegal war on Yemen, US arms sales worth $33 Billion were closed Saudi and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) entities according to Defense News. In total, America’s Nobel Peace Chief Barack Hussein Obama has offered to sell $115 billion in weapons to Saudi Arabia since taking office in 2009 – more than any previous US administration, according to a recent report.
Not to be left out of the party, Britain has also sold more than £3.7 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia since Saudi’s illegal war of aggression began.
In truth, many of these estimates are conservative and do not include many more hundreds of millions in ancillary costs, staffing, support contracting and engineering.
Even though they’ve been completely redacted by the western media, and also by the myriad of Gulf monarchy media outlets, the real heroes of this conflict are the Yemeni people.
In their reductionist way of thinking and categorizing the world outside of their shores, Americans refer to Middle East populations in sectarian terms – because this is they way they would like to see the world, but it couldn’t be any further from reality. To Americans, the Yemeni war is all because of “Iranian-backed Shia Houthi Rebels.” The first US Congressman ever to say that in public probably read it directly off an AIPAC policy briefing sheet. That’s the sad reality still in Washington – information-poor (and lobby cash-rich) elected representatives are only able to see the world through the Israeli lens.
The reality is much more complex than just “the Houthis.” A genuine Arab Spring has taken place in Yemen and the US and Saudi response was simply to try and crush the people. But the people have resisted fiercely, and together. Unlike other neo-colonial ventures like Iraq and Afghanistan – the people of Yemen have united to a large degree and are determined to realize their own vision of self government. This is something that has been written off by everyone in the US establishment – from the President all the way down the political food chain.
The UK/US built, House of Saud, is waging a genocidal war of aggression that has already destroyed entire swathes of Yemeni cultural heritage and decimated entire communities, particularly in the northern, traditionally Ansarullah (Houthi) held areas such as Saada and Hajjah. This was by design. By now, we can see clearly how this was yet another ethnic cleansing programme being endorsed, fuelled and defended by the United States and her allies in the UK, EU, Israel, and of course the neighbouring Gulf States, the majority of whom participated in this dirty war. Oman, a lone, moderate, and independent thinking gulf state, has remained neutral, providing a degree of support to the Yemeni people. […]
The height of US hypocrisy was on full display during a US State Department press briefing where the already discredited US spokesman John Kirby shameless danced around a mass-murder by Saudi Arabia – whose airstrikes are supported logistically by the United States. This is the definition of criminality unchecked. Watch:
Author Vanessa Beeley is a special contributor to 21WIRE, and since 2011, she has spent most of her time in the Middle East reporting on events there – as a independent researcher, writer, photographer and peace activist. She is also a volunteer with the Global Campaign to Return to Palestine. See more of her work at her blog The Wall Will Fall.
For further background on Saudi ‘s war of aggression please read 21WIRE article: UN Whitewashing Saudi Coalition War Crimes and International Human Rights Violations
The Russian President Vladimir Putin’s interview with the French TV this week almost entirely dwelt on the Syrian situation – fighting in Aleppo, in particular. Putin was frank about the US’ doublespeak – especially, its covert dealings with Nusra, the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, and the calculated hour-long attack by US jets on a Syrian military base two weeks ago in tandem with ground operations by Islamic State fighters. The interview is an eye-opener. (Transcript)
Given the complete breakdown of trust in Russian-American dealings on Syria at the diplomatic and political level, it is hard to see what purpose would be served in the FM-level meeting being scheduled in Lausanne on Saturday, involving Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Russia and the US. (Middle East Eye )
Perhaps, one ray of hope could be that the UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura’s formula that the rebel fighters, including those belonging to Nusra, be allowed safe passage to evacuate from Aleppo with their weapons so that the fighting can somehow be brought to an early end. Russia favors the idea and it seems Turkey is on board, too. Moscow has taken Tehran’s okay as well. If Mistura’s formula takes wings, there could be ceasefire in Aleppo.
But the broad thrust of the Russian-Iranian-Syrian campaign cannot conceivably be anything short of taking control of Aleppo. The one factor that goes in favour of some positive tiding coming out of Saturday’s meeting is that the Obama administration has run out of options on Syria and Washington is under compulsion to be seen as ‘proactive’ on Syria. (Times )
The control of the Syrian air space by Russia means that any military intervention may risk confrontation with Russia. Besides, US-Turkey relations too are on a roller coaster and without Turkey’s cooperation, Americans can’t go very far on Syria. On Wednesday, President Recep Erdogan warned Washington that Turkey will “resort to very serious steps” if the Obama administration drags its feet on the extradition of the Islamic cleric Fetullah Gulen. (Sputnik )
The following excerpts of an Iranian commentary (Fars news agency) bring out the US’ predicament:
- US officials are terrified to see eastern Aleppo fall into the hands of Syrian armed forces. They are furious about the allied forces of Iran, Syria, Russia and Hezbollah hitting its so-called “moderate rebels,” who are heavily armed and backed by the Pentagon… who have long been working with Al-Nusra and ISIL, shared their western arms supplies with these two groups and staged joint military operations with them everywhere in Aleppo, and every day you see one of them declares formal allegiance to either Al-Nusra or ISIL; the last one was Jund Al-Aqsa half of whom joined Al-Nusra on Sunday and the rest arrived in Raqqa on Wednesday to join the ISIL. The only way to stop the crushing defeat of its terrorists at the hands of the Syrian army and its allies is for Washington to establish a no-fly zone, which they cannot.
Clearly, the threats by US Secretary of State John Kerry to put Russia and Syria on trial for ‘war crimes’ and to impose fresh sanctions against Moscow over the Aleppo fighting, etc. – and, least of all, the veiled threat that US may have a ‘Plan B’ – are turning out to be bluster. With Russia’s decision to establish a full-fledged naval base at Tartus and a “permanent deployment” of Russian air force in the Hmeimin air base, it becomes a high-risk venture for the US to challenge Russian supremacy in Syria. Moscow’s politico-military objective in the 2-3 months that lie ahead will be to forestall even an interventionist US president such as Hillary Clinton.
Meanwhile, the realignments in regional politics also strengthen Russia’s position. Egypt’s decision to join hands with China and Venezuela to support the Russian resolution on Aleppo at the UN Security Council in the weekend – and, more important, to oppose the French resolution demanding end to air attacks on Aleppo (which Moscow vetoed) – has strained Egypt-Saudi Arabia relations. Since the vote, the Aramco, government-owned Saudi oil company, suspended oil aid to Egypt. The Saudi ambassador to Egypt left Cairo on Wednesday for consultations in Riyadh, prompting speculation about chill in Saudi-Egyptian ties. Russia is due to hold its first-ever military exercise on Egyptian territory next week.
To the vast majority of Americans, the Syrian crisis (as well as the state of affairs in Iraq, Libya, Yemen, etc.) is merely a distant blip on a cluttered radar screen. Competing with issues affecting an individual’s daily life like wages, taxes, and free trade, that small portion of the American population who hasn’t completely zoned out of the political and current-events sphere is increasingly overtaken with the necessities of survival. Those who are able to devote enough time to the Syrian crisis are confronted with an unprecedented onslaught of propaganda demonizing the Syrian government and the Syrian president as “killing his own people,” “brutal,” and “genocidal.” The Syrian people are also victims of the propaganda war as being obsessed with religion, divided, and opposed to their government.
As they are presented by the U.S. media, the Syrian people, like most other people across the world are completely dehumanized. In American media, Syrians are not human. They are numbers. 100 died today. 86 died the day before. Syrians are not mothers or sons. They are not fathers or little children, grandparents. They are blips on a screen and data in a spreadsheet. At least, this is how they are presented to an increasingly hardened American public, a nation that is becoming more and more desensitized to death, destruction, and degradation both at home and abroad.
Having recently concluded a trip to the Middle East, I can safely say that the claims made by Western media are the opposite of the truth.
While my visit centered in Lebanon, we had frequent opportunities to talk with ordinary Syrian citizens either visiting Lebanon or fleeing the ravages of the war in their home country. Indeed, Syrians and Syrian refugees were plentiful in Beirut and many would openly speak about the horrors visited upon them by the West’s proxy war and their trials outside Syria.
What is so important about the fact that these Syrians were being interviewed in Lebanon is the unique benefit of talking with someone not living in their home country because one knows with relative certainty that the person speaking has nothing to lose or gain by giving a false perception of the government. After all, one of the frequent accusations leveled by the Western media is that, whenever one speaks to a Syrian actually living in Syria is that they are handicapped by that person’s fear of retribution from the Syrian government. According to this train of thought, if a man criticized Assad in Syria, he might be subject to arrest and then, of course, torture, execution, and “barrel bombs.”
But that is not the case in Lebanon. In Lebanon, even the most vocal anti-Assad Syrian can speak his mind and be safely out of Assad’s reach. Indeed, even out of ear shot by the Syrian government. A Syrian in Lebanon can speak his piece and do so safely in the knowledge that the alleged “brutal dictator” cannot reach him.
That being said, out of all the Syrians I met and spoke to – refugees and visitors, Muslim and Christian, male and female – not one of them supported the “rebels” and all of them – 100% – fully supported their government and Bashar al-Assad. These individuals had nothing but hate for the terrorists and nothing but love for Assad and the Syrian government.
This point needs to be stressed. These individuals were not under threat of a tyrant ready to arrest them if they spoke out against him. They were free of Assad. They could spit on his portrait if they wanted and there is nothing the Syrian government can do to them. Instead, they expressed an incredible amount of pride in their country, their government, and their President.
So, with that in mind, if Assad and the Syrian government are “barrel bombing” their own citizens, committing genocide against the Syrian people, and killing civilians indiscriminately, and if Syrians are free to speak their mind about Assad in Lebanon, why couldn’t I find one Syrian who wanted Assad to “step down” or for terrorists to bring them the “freedom and democracy” the West keeps yapping on about? Perhaps I was looking in the wrong places or perhaps the information coming from Western governments and their media mouthpieces are simply propaganda. Personally, I’ll put my money on the latter.
One striking aspect of Beirut in the context of the Syrian crisis is that one does not necessarily have to seek out the Syrians in order to speak to them. If one only wears a necklace, t-shirt, or bracelet with the Syrian flag, they will come to you. Any indication of solidarity with their country, especially exhibited by a Westerner (even better, an American) and a man who speaks only one word of English will stop whatever he is doing so that he can have a conversation with the foreigner, even if that conversation is done by body language, hand gestures, broken English, interpreters, or Google Translate alone.
Others more skilled in the English language are willing to have long discussions about their experiences, their support for the government, and their hatred for the terrorists infecting their country. They would tell tales of watching people they knew killed in front of them and having lost family or very close friends at the hands of America’s “moderates.” Indeed, in Syria, as well as in the diaspora of the last 5 years, it seems impossible to speak with a single Syrian who has not lost someone close to them.
The sheer magnitude of the crisis is unimaginable in scale, much in the way that the horrors inflicted upon the Syrian people by America’s democracy loving cannibals are beyond the comprehension of most Western audiences. But despite all the bloodshed, loss, and terror perpetrated on Syria by the United States, the Syrian spirit remains and the Syrian people remain some of the kindest, friendliest, and most hospitable people on the face of the earth.
In addition, Syrians remain a seemingly highly informed audience despite the fact that their country has been crippled by warfare for the past five years and that they themselves have been turned into refugees. Knowledge not only of their own situation, but about the players behind it and the developments taking place in Europe and America is common and, while American audiences watch the 24 hours news cycle in utter befuddlement as to the events taking place in Syria, Syrians are profoundly aware of just who is responsible for the crisis their country is facing.
While Americans chalk the crisis up to the “they have been fighting for thousands of years” line or accept the propaganda that Syria is facing a civil war, Syrians know that what they are facing is a proxy war against their government, against their very way of life, and against Russia. Syrians are fully aware of the fact that the terrorists beheading their way across the country are funded by Saudi Arabia, facilitated by Turkey and Israel, and trained by the United States. They are fully aware that there are no “moderates” fighting against the Syrian government and that the United States is responsible for creating the ISIS terror organization it is claiming to fight.
All of this may come as a surprise to Americans but, in Syria, it is well known.
With that in mind, it is an extraordinary thing that Syrians can welcome foreigners visiting their country with such patience and forgiveness. It is truly amazing that Syrian refugees struggling to survive in a foreign country is willing to sit with a citizen of the very country that destroyed his home and killed his family members, smoke hookah with him, and discuss his homeland. It is an unbelievable act of understanding and forgiveness for a man not to judge an American as the enemy and to separate the American people from their government. I was personally struck by the genuine kindness shown to me by people who have been given every legitimate reason to do otherwise.
What the United States is doing to Syria is truly shameful and immoral but, despite the horrors the U.S. and NATO countries have visited upon Syria, the people have refused to give in.
As Mark Twain said,
Damascus has seen all that has ever occurred on earth, and still she lives. She has looked upon the dry bones of a thousand empires, and will see the tombs of a thousand more before she dies.
Judging by the people I met, I am inclined to agree with him.
Brandon Turbeville – article archive here – is the author of seven books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies, Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 and volume 2, The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria, and The Difference it Makes: 36 Reasons Why Hillary Clinton Should Never Be President.